If your business will be involved in any of the following commercial areas, you may need to obtain a federal license or permit:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Firearms, ammunition, or explosives
- Fish and wildlife
- Maritime transportation
- Mining and drilling
- Nuclear energy
- Radio, television and broadcasting
- Transportation and logistics
- Commercial Fisheries
For more information on federal licensing, visit the Federal Licenses & Permits page on the sba.gov website.
Recommended: If you fall in one of the above categories, consider using a professional service to handle your business licenses. This will make sure you are compliant with all federal, state and local laws.
Most businesses require some sort of state license or permit in order to operate legally in their state. Additionally, some professions require business owners to pass a state examination before practicing, such as lawyers, doctors, and electricians.
Other professional service providers that typically require state licensing include accountants, barbers, contractors, mechanics, plumbers, and real estate brokers.
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resources for your state
In addition to federal and state licenses and permits, most businesses will need some kind of local license or permit in order to conduct business within their specific county or municipality. These will vary, and depend on the nature of your business. For example, if your business serves the public and produces a lot of waste, you should expect to need permits from the local fire department and waste management department. Other common local permits include food and liquor licenses, as well as signage permits.
For more information on local business licenses and permits, check with your town, city or county clerk's office. You can also get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.